Jean Lumb

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Jean Lumb



Jean Bessie Lumb, CM (1919–2002) was the first Chinese Canadian woman and the first restaurateur to receive the Order of Canada for her community work. Most notably, she was recognized for her pivotal role in changing Canada’s immigration laws that separated Chinese families and for her contribution in saving Chinatowns in Toronto and other cities.

Lumb, one of twelve children, was born in Nanaimo, B.C. to Fun Gee Wong and Hone Hung Mah, both of Canton, China. Her father emigrated to Canada to work as a farm labourer. Lumb left school at the age of 12 to work and support her family. In 1935, she moved to Toronto and later opened her own grocery store as a 17-year-old. In 1939, she married Doyle Jenning Lumb, her husband of 50 years. The mother of six children and grandmother of nine grandchildren, Jean Lumb was the Co-Owner and Director of the Kwong Chow Restaurant in Toronto for 23 years. Jean Lumb was very active in community work throughout her life. She achieved many firsts in Toronto. First Chinese woman on the board of governors of the Women’s College Hospital. First Chinese woman on the board of University Settlement House. First Chinese restaurateur and first woman to receive the Fran Deck Award for outstanding achievement in Toronto’s restaurant industry. First Chinese-Canadian woman to sit on the Board of Rotary-Laughlen Centre. She served as Director and Honorary Advisor of the Yee Hong Chinese Nursing Home for Greater Toronto and the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, respectively.

Community Work[edit]

  • 1957 Immigration Appeal Act (Only woman invited to Ottawa to represent Chinese families separated by immigration laws)
  • 1950 - 1972 Women's Association of the Chinese Dramatic Society, President and Director
  • 1959 - 1981 Kwong Chow Chop Suey House, Toronto, Co-Owner and Director
  • 1959 - 1970 Chinese Community Dancers of Ontario, Director and Producer (Command Performance for and presentation to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Ottawa, 1967
  • 1959 - 1967 Toronto Chinese Public School, Trustee and Director
  • 1962 - 1968 University Settlement House (First Chinese-Canadian woman to sit on the Board of Directors)
  • 1963 - 1998 Lem Si Ho Tong Family Association Women's Group,President and Director
  • 1966 - 1982 Rotary-Laughlen Centre (First Chinese-Canadian woman to sit on the Board)
  • 1970 - 1982 Women's College Hospital (First Chinese-Canadian woman to sit on the Board of Governors)
  • 1970 “Save Chinatown” Campaign, Chairperson
  • 1973 - 1982 Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism
  • 1985 - 1999 Mount Sinai Hospital, Director
  • 1985 - 1998 University Settlement House, Patron
  • 1986 - 1990 Canadian Music Competition for Ontario, Patron
  • 1987 - 1990 Summer Centres for Seniors, Director
  • 1992 Twinning of Chung King and Toronto, Advisory Board Member
  • 1994 Ontario Women's Directorate, Honorary Member
  • 1994 - 2001 Citizenship Judge
  • 1994 Yee Hong Chinese Nursing Home for Greater Toronto, Founding Director
  • 1994 Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, Honorary Advisor

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1976 Order of Canada (First Chinese-Canadian woman and First Canadian restaurateur)
  • 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Award/Queen’s Silver Jubilee Award
  • 1977 Recipient of the Governor General’s Award
  • 1982 The Fran Deck Award In recognition of Toronto’s leading contributor to the restaurant industry (First woman recipient)
  • 1983 Special Award to Honour Special Chinese Canadians (Presented by the Chinese Canadian National Council in honour of Chinese in Canada and their 125 years of continuous community)
  • 1984 Recipient of the City of Toronto Award of Merit, Special Sesquicentennial presentation on Civic Honours Day First Chinese-Canadian woman
  • 1984 Award, Ontario Chinese Restaurant Association
  • 1990 The Chinese Community Nursing Home for Greater Toronto, Tribute at the first annual Dragon Ball
  • 1994 YWCA Women of Change Honour Roll
  • 1996 Tribute to Madam Jean Lumb Banquet: Mid-Autumn Gala for the Jean Lumb Awards
  • 1997 Elizabeth Fry Society, Rebel for a Cause Honouree
  • 1997 Chinese Family and Health Cooperative, Mother of the Year Award
  • 2000 Order of the Knights of Rizal
  • 2002 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award
  • 2007 Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs, Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2009 Provincial Historical Plaque Unveiling, Ontario Heritage Trust


  • Jean Lumb, Loving spoonfuls, Episode 2,, Indivisual Productions Inc., 2001.
  • Quo Vadis, Mrs. Lumb?, National Film Board of Canada, 1965.
  • Spirit of the dragon, written, directed and produced by Gil Gauvreau, Convergence Productions, 2002. Winner of the National Film Board of Canada's Outstanding Documentary Award at the Reel World Festival 2003
  • Under the willow tree: pioneer Chinese women in Canada, National Film Board of Canada, 1997.

Photographic Exhibition[edit]

“But women did come: a photographic exhibition on Chinese Canadian women”, Chinese Canadian National Council, 1993.

This article based on content from Original version: U